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February 8, 2012

Hate all the systems. Love all the people.

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 2:06 pm

I’m posting this on my own blog, too. It’s a comment from this thread on Alisa‘s blog – which is, itself, a response to this thread on the KinkForAll Denver mailing list.

So, I just put two-and-two together about why some of the conversations I’ve had over the past few days about this subject have left me so frustrated. I keep talking to people who seem like they should Get It – and, instead, they seem hurt and angry and confused about why myself or people who I support are “attacking” them.

I’ve had this gut sense that it has something to do with a misframing of the conversation, but I couldn’t explain what exactly. It just clicked:

The conversation worth having about privilege and the BDSM scene is not only about calling PEOPLE in the scene out for having OTHER privileges wrt e.g. race, class, etc. I mean, talking about those vectors of oppression and how they intersect with Scene-privilege is important too. But making it all about whether the scene is statistically dominated by rich white cis straight people or not, and what that means, is too simple. That rapidly turns it into an argument about Good Scenesters vs. Bad Scenesters, or Good Local Scenes vs Bad Local Scenes. It opens the door for Oppression Olympics A Go Go, and also gives people the “No, but I’m Special!” out, leaving them distractedly obsessing over how to prove their specialness – instead of noticing that the Scene is sneaking up behind them with a hammer.

So, another necessary part of the conversation about privilege and the BDSM scene is about calling The Scene itself out for being an institution. I’ve been sort of starting to get this for a while – thanks in part to some of maymay’s writings giving voice to some “Danger! Danger!” gut instincts that I’ve been suppressing for a long time – but I hadn’t been able to state it quite that succinctly until now. Although now it seems so “Holyshit, duh” obvious when I say it: The Scene isn’t “bad” simply because it reinscribes institutional oppressions from elsewhere. It does do that. But it also inscribes its own unique oppressions, because the Scene is an institution.

One which, like any other institution, constrains and oppresses its participants in exchange for goodies that they supposedly can’t get elsewhere. One which, like any other institution, requires class consciousness and mass solidarity to change. And one that, as with all institutions, most participants are both complicit in sustaining (in ways they need more awareness around) and legitimately trapped in against their will (in ways they need support around).

People who I’m used to being otherwise totally on the ball re: dynamics of oppression can’t seem get their heads around the idea that Scene-privilege is a thing, much less a thing that’s hurting them and other people, because they don’t think of the Scene as an institution. This makes sense. Sometimes, when it feels like one institution (e.g. the BDSM Scene) is protecting you from a bigger, meaner institution (e.g. BDSM-phobic sex-negative kyriarchical culture), it’s easy to slip into believing that your sub-culture is more-or-less benign. But it’s not. Because it’s an institution. And they’re all in cahootz with each other. All of them.

Maybe I’m being polyanna, but there are so many people who are already acting powerfully toward social justice in other areas, who I feel would get the whole thing if they just…y’know, got this.

But how do we shift the conversation?

* And when I say “they” need more support and awareness…I really should be saying “we”. Because, as much as I hate admitting that I’m part of any Scenes, because of my own personal trauma and privileged bullshit both – the fact is that, insofar as Scenes are institutions, they touch my life and that means I’m part of them. And responsible for them. And being hurt by them. And benefiting from them. Whether I like it or not.

(Someone once asked me in the wake of some Occupy actions whether I’m an anarchist. After a long, wandering, cagey conversation about how “anarchy” means different things to different people in different contexts, and the difference between having an anarchic philosophy vs an anarchist identity, etc. etc. etc. I finally said, “Okay. Yes. Yes, I’m an anarchist.”

Then they asked me what anarchism means to ME. And, after some thought, I realized, “To me, it means: Hate all the systems; love all the people.” And it means understanding the ways in which those are the same thing. But that, for me, loving all the people is primary. I want to hate all the systems in ways that are loving toward the people who comprise them. That’s not an answer to my question about how we change the conversation, at all. But it’s a starting point for me to strategize from…)



  1. […] started as an addendum to the previous post, but it needs its own space. […]

    Pingback by A Coming Out Story of Sorts « Bloggity Blog Blog Blog… — February 8, 2012 @ 3:34 pm | Reply

  2. […] BDSM that I’m finding hurtful and convoluted, it’s the scene.  And this makes sense, the scene is a structure, an organization that will, perhaps by necessity,  be bound to organizational maintenance, […]

    Pingback by Create awesome or Create cliques, your choice « Kink in exile — February 28, 2012 @ 12:46 am | Reply

  3. Reblogged this on Bloggity Blog Blog Blog….

    Comment by thirdxlucky — April 15, 2013 @ 2:09 am | Reply

  4. Reblogged this on That's Not a Kink Blog; THIS is a Kink Blog!.

    Comment by thirdxlucky — April 15, 2013 @ 2:14 am | Reply

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